Over Spring Break, Rich and I spent a few lovely days in Charleston, South Carolina. High on my list was a visit to the famous Magnolia Gardens. (Photos from their website below).
Turns out, they have a poetry contest, and the deadline was our first day in town. Rich, perhaps overestimating my powers, offered me a visit right away. And then, presumably, I’d write a poem between lunch and dinner.
At first. this seemed ridiculous. To write a poem about something, you need to understand it. I was off my territory, among new flora and fauna. Still, I know something about gardens. And about poetry about gardens.
So I wrote a poem and sent it in. The winners were announced. I wasn’t on the list. Made sense–I’d been inspired but was competing with people who really knew the garden.
Then, two days ago, I got a phone call. I’d won Honorable Mention. “It must be a mistake,” I said. The caller kindly informed me I’d been looking at the wrong web page–last year’s.
So, here is my poem. Thank you, Magnolia!
I take your hand along the mossy way
Camellia blossoms fall, the red Japonica
That brings to mind a viewing with a parasol;
Inside a winding glade a statue stands—
A saint, a goddess, or a grave.
Once I was young, and dreamed
I held a globe of water in my hands—
It shattered, and a cardinal, red bird,
Flew out and lighted in the grove’s pale trees.
Red petals punctuate my thoughts
And make me want to kiss
Your lips again, worn soft
By time, and mine.
Within the boxwood maze
An unseen peacock’s cry
Whose Argos eyes fan out yet still can’t see.
White camellia, scentless,
Settles down like snow
And jonquils springing from cool ground
Evoke what might have been—
What I know now
That once I did not know.